(I thought this deserved its own post in the music section -Marv) Music Appreciation / Music as a Tangible Object Rant In today’s world of digital music, either streaming or stored on a hard drive, it is easy to take music for granted. Many of us value the size of digital collections (of albums we’ve listened to once or twice - if at all), but not the actual value of its content. Having terabytes of information being only a mouse click away is commonplace, but ultimately a dangerous thing. My Jriver music player says that I have 495 hours of lossless music stored, enough to play a new song for three weeks straight. While I briefly enjoyed growing this collection as quickly as possible, I probably enjoyed music more as a kid with a modest collection of 50 or so CDs. I believe we (as a society) have misplaced our value of music as a physical object in today’s digital age. Becoming old enough to really desire my own music I had to save up enough money to acquire cassette tapes and then CDs. I remember the joy of holding my new purchase in my hand and being excited to hear my favorite tunes from the radio at my disposal. Records, cassettes, and cd’s all were an important part of my youth. Studying every square inch of the liner notes, knowing all the members of the bands names, lyrics, and even mundane “thank you”s were part of the process that brought you closer to the artist and what they were trying to convey through their album. Looking at the album artwork as I listened helped stimulate all the senses. I do not miss the cassette tapes and CDs, I’ve probably downloaded anything of any significance, but something is lost. Downloading at a couple clicks is a very impersonal way to acquire something of such significance. It does not feel the same. Part of what makes digital music less involving to me is the ability to multitask to the point of distraction. Listening at a computer while reading forums, catching up with emails, working, etc mentally removes the listener from a full experience. I often find myself completely unaware of what is coming through my headphones. Listening on a phone or a DAP can be a very enjoyable experience, but the distractions are many. While it is incredibly convenient to have our music library with us everywhere we go, it diminishes the significance of its importance. There is a remedy to the situation above, I have found a cure. Digital enthusiasts will roll their eyes, but the tried and true vinyl record has brought this joy back into my life. I forgot the joy of walking out of the music store holding something going home, unpackaging, and putting it on to play and it exceeding expectations. I forgot what it was like to see the album artwork, read about the artist, the recording, their thought process, etc. To get a glimpse into the musician’s vision, how they worked and shaped information into a 12” x 12” cardboard sleeve. This is seen as a draw back for many, but having to get up and flip a record every 30 min or so helps keep the listener involved and focused on the experience. The bonus for me is that vinyl sounds better - It draws me in, is more intimate, more dynamic range, insert all the record vs. digital clichés. Vinyl has put jumper cables onto my brain and awakened my ability to hear music. Vinyl isn’t the only remedy. Setting aside time to listen without distractions is key. Don’t be satisfied with the 1” square of album artwork on the media player. Take time to investigate what when into a recording. Get more involved, the music will sound better and the whole experience will be heightened. The purpose of this essay isn’t to say digital music sucks, sell your DACs and spdif converters / analog or bust (I will leave that for Purrin and Shiazada ). Digital music has an important place in my life and I use it every day. I stream Tidal throughout my house on a couple of sonos boxes (pitchforks), and really get to enjoy a lot of music through a Gungnir Multibit. But remembering to appreciate the value of what I have at my fingertips, either in the physical analog world or the vast digital universe, has brought me more joy in my listening experiences than ever.